Special Reports

States of Addiction: A Dose of Discipline

KINGWOOD, WV (WOWK) - The opioid epidemic does not discriminate. Age is not a factor. In fact, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse,  the number of children and teens hospitalized over the last 15 years due to opioid poisoning has nearly doubled. And most adults getting treatment for opioid drugs started using illicit drugs before the age of 18. 

Since 1993, the Mountaineer Challenge Academy has seen thousands of at-risk students, including those suffering from opioid addiction, come through its doors (or gates) at Camp Dawson, West Virginia.

We followed three of those students (Cadets); 16-year-old Micheal Dooley, 17-year-old Hunter Easterday and 17-year-old Pete Williams. They all eventually turned to opioids as an easy fix - a way to cope with their young lives. They are expected to graduate June 15.

The Mountaineer Challenge Academy is a 22-week quasi-military program that trains and mentors young folks like Dooley, Easterday, and Williams to become contributing members of society. It's part discipline, part classroom where students get the opportunity to get a high school diploma to eventually move to other phases of their lives (job training, further education or even military service).

There are various criteria to get in - including the ability to remain drug-free (they test Cadets before entering and a few times during the program).

To find out more about the program, go to www.wv.challenge.org or call (304)-329-2118 or 1 (800) 529-7700.

See more coverage of this program, and see the stories of these students tonight on 13 News at 6 & 11.

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